Some kids spend their summer at summer camp, some spend their summer working crappy summer holiday jobs. Not the case for Igor Amadeus Cavalera who spent the summer hanging out with his dad listening to old-school death metal, watching horror movies, and recording an album. That album, Go Ahead and Die, is the first fruits of this father/son project, also going under the name Go Ahead and Die and is out now through Nuclear Blast Records. Recently, we caught up with Igor to chat about the album, his musical upbringing, and his favourite Max Cavalera album.
Hey Igor, how are you?
Igor Amadeus Cavalera: “I’m doing good. How about yourself?”
All good here. End of the day in the UK so just winding down. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us. Absolutely love the album, it does what it says on the tin and doesn’t mix its words. Was that your aim with it?
“The aim was to have fun with my dad. Honestly, that was first and foremost. We wanted to make a metal record. We wanted to come up with something from scratch. That was the intention. So, we took our influences from death metal, and thrash, and punk, and hardcore and all types of different stuff and we just tried to make the most extreme, brutal thing that we could you know, and that that’s what Go Ahead and Die came out as. Strip away the lyrics or any of that social awareness and stuff like that and you just you have a metal album between father and son the likes of which I don’t think has been done before?”
I believe it was your idea originally?
“Yeah, I came up with the general idea of the band. I’ve always been in different styles of bands but more in the doom stoner category. I’ve always loved old death metal and stuff like that. So, yeah, it was my idea to do something like that. My father and I just kicked around the idea for a couple of years until last year when we had the opening to finally do it. It was a silver lining to the pandemic for us. It was like we had the time finally. He’s in three bands already. I’m in another band. We’re both pretty busy with what we do so the silver lining to the pandemic was getting the time and the freedom and the madness from quarantine to make to make a record like this.”
As you said, the pandemic gave you the opportunity to record the album. Why do you feel now was the right time to do it? Was it purely down to the pandemic?
“Yeah, I personally don’t think we would have done it sooner even if we could and if the pandemic didn’t happen, we might have still not done it now. So in a weird way, this was the time to do it. In general, the world is crazy, the politics in America are real crazy lately so, all these things combined, all these frustrations and things like that, it just felt right. Everything about it was just really natural.”
From Sepultura through to Soulfly, Nailbomb, Cavalera Conspiracy, all the projects Max puts his name to are really extreme. I guess when you went to him with the idea he must have jumped at it like an excited child?
“Yeah, he was really excited. I think he even said something like, ‘man, I haven’t written an album like this in a long time,’ or something like that. You know, nobody should just write the same stuff for three decades and expect people to be excited but I think, for him, as well as me, it was fun to go into a different style that he hasn’t touched in a while and I haven’t touched since I was a kid when I was in a punk band that never even played a show, you know? Yeah. For us it was like going back to the early days of getting into metal and first hearing bands like Discharge, Hellhammer, Venom and stuff like that.
It was weird because there’s a generational gap between us but we both got into the same stuff around the same age. My father and I share that weird similarity that he got into bands like Discharge and punk and stuff like that at 12 or 13. I got into Discharge, Bad Brains and eventually got into metal like Hellhammer and stuff like that at about 13 as well. So we share that weird love of that style of music. So, when I kind of was like, ‘let’s do a record like Discharge and Bolthrower and just put in a blender and put our own twist on it,’ he was super excited.”
When you approached him with the idea, you obviously had a vision of how you wanted it to sound. How close was his idea of how he thought it should sound?
“I think we were similar once we started writing and getting into the groove of it. I made it very apparent that I wanted to start from scratch. No leftover stuff, I just wanted to sit down and just come up with new stuff. So, once we started doing it that way, it was really natural, a really, really organic, writing style and everything like that. Once the sound was there, it made sense that it needed to be recorded the way that it ended up being and it needed to be portrayed in the way that it got portrayed just because it is that type of record. I wasn’t going to write a record like this and talk about peace and love and fairy tales and things like that. Just like I’m not going to write a stoner record and start talking about politics and things like that. It’s important to know your place with this band.
Once we had those first few songs, it definitely just gave us the vibe of like Terrorizer World Downfall and Napalm Death From Enslavement, and we just needed to keep it intentionally raw. I use the word a little crappy or whatever, you know, like a little crusty around the edges, it gets very dirty.”
None of those albums that you talked about sound polished at all. That’s what made them what they were…
“Yeah, absolutely, I love records like that because of the personality and the imperfections, the nuances as a listener that you notice. That’s what I love about music, in general, is the feeling behind it. Being able to hear that from musician to musician is something I really love. With Go Ahead and Die, it was no different. We wanted to do this almost like live, you know? We pretended we were doing it analogue and we don’t have time to take a bunch of takes. Let’s pretend it’s 1987, we have no budget, and we have no time to do anything. We’re going to just get it done and that’s how it’s going to sound. That was really the mindset I approached it with and I think for the better because, at the end of the day, it sounds great and it stands on its own two feet.”
You’ve had the idea kicking around for a couple of years now. Would you have done it without Max? Is it something you considering other musicians for? Or was it something you specifically said that I want to do this with Max?
“I’ve thought about making my own band in that style before but I think the real true birth of the idea was was when Soulfly did the Nailbomb Point Blank record live. My dad asked me if I would do Alex Newport’s vocals because Alex didn’t want to do them for one reason or another. That was really the first time our voices were were meshing on a live show type feel and that was really where it clicked. I do think that if I didn’t do it with my dad, I would have done some type of crust/punk/death metal type thing eventually. Just because I love that stuff. My other bands are stoner sludge and I love bands like Cathedral, and Sleep, and Neurosis, that’s why I have a sludge band.
At the same time, I love Discharge, and Celtic Frost, and Bolt Thrower and stuff like that so I do think I would have done something like that eventually. Once we did the Nailbomb thing live, and we had so much fun, just like listening to old records together, I knew I wanted to do it with him. I wanted to make it a father-son thing because that’s what I think is really the bond and the central thing behind it. Once you strip the themes, the lyrics, the social stuff away from it, it’s me and my dad having fun. Instead of going on a fishing trip or a camping trip or something. We did an album trip and, and I wouldn’t want to do anything else.”
Just growing up around that and watching his musical career must have been a huge influence. As well on a personal level, he’s had some incredible highs and some really, really heartbreaking lows but his music has been constant. What have you learned from him?
“To just always do it because your heart is in it to do it even against the odds. We were actually doing a joint interview the other day where he was talking about when Seps broke up, and he said, a lot of people weren’t believing in him. They were telling him that he’ll never make it with another band and that he should have stuck this out. He said that the happiest choice he made was making Soulfly and going his own way and sticking with it, because here he is, you know, and so that’s definitely something I’ve learned. As long as your heart is in it, just keep doing it. As a musician, I’ve also dealt with my own hardships.
Having a father who is so successful makes it hard, in some ways, people’s judgement, people’s opinion, people’s predisposition that they like to think I get it easy because of who my dad is before they ever talk to me. They’ll assume that I’m just getting things because of who my dad is before they ever talk to me. It’s been hard for me in my own way to just keep doing it but my heart is in it, and I love doing it. That’s definitely something he taught me, just fight if people don’t believe in you, or if people don’t support you, no matter what they say. Just keep doing it because someone out there will like your music, someone out there will care that you’re doing it. I think what he’s done with Soulfly has enlightened a lot of people. I think that it was great for him to do and he’s definitely passed that along onto me.”
Was there a pivotal point in your life where you watched him on stage and thought, I want to do that?
“Definitely. There’s been countless times, to be honest, growing up, where I’d see him rocking the house, and, and realize that that’s my dad. It’s funny because I know some sons of musicians or athletes who sometimes think it’s dorky what their dad does. I know he used to wear the eye makeup and the bullet belts and dress like cheesy, ‘80s metal but I think it’s awesome. Personally, I always thought it was really cool. Even sometimes seeing him have those hard shows, is sometimes something that reminds me too.
He’s going to be 52 years old this year and he’s been doing this since he was 13. That’s a long, very long time to still have that passion. I know, as a musician, sometimes it’s hard to go out and play. I remember they opened for Judas Priest one time and the older Priest crowd just hated it but my dad still went out there and did his thing every night. That definitely inspired me too. If people are going to have a predisposition about me, because of my father, I’m going to keep doing what I want to do. If people are going to think something about me, I’m going to keep doing what I want to do, because I love this stuff, and I want to do it. We did this because we wanted to and because we both love it, and we don’t really care what people are going to say. We’re going to keep doing it. And, you know, I won’t change those lessons for the world.”
Is it right that you got Jeff Walker from Carcass to create the logo?
“Yeah, he did actually. As crazy as it was, it was a surprise to us as we did not personally make that connection happen. Somebody at the label did some shadow work on that. I think they showed him a couple of songs and explained to him that it’s inspired by the English crust and grind and death metal. So, we woke up and it was a surprise to us. I practically squealed. I’m a huge early Carcass fan, especially when they were more like the goregrind side. So, the fact that he did the old school punk black and white style, like a Crass inspired logo, just really blew my mind. To me, it was like the UK crust stamp of approval on the record, like this gets the pass.”
You couldn’t have picked a better person from that scene because, even though Carcass were gory, they still had their foot planted in the punk scene…
“In my opinion, I was I was not fortunate enough to be there, when it was happening but, as a kid born in the ‘90s, and growing up in the early 2000s, when I heard the English scene, and especially bands like Doom, they were huge for me as a kid. It shaped my interest in music, in sound, but also in ideology, and things like that. I feel like a lot of those UK bands were anti-racism, anti-cruelty, pro-human rights, things like that, and I think, despite them being called like Napalm Death and stuff like that, it’s actually not a bad influence.
It’s going to make you open-minded and accepting when you think about other people’s suffering and stuff like that. I have nothing but respect for that whole scene. And this album, in a way, is proof that the younger generation did hear their message and we do appreciate it and we appreciate all that music that the generation before us got to do. We want to do our best to carry the torch.”
That leads me to my next question. There’s nothing, and this isn’t meant in a derogatory way, but there’s nothing new school or modern about the record. It sits very much into that old school area.
How do you think the new modern crowd will react to it? How do you think it will sit with people who don’t know the history of you or those bands that inspire this album? I’m thinking of those kids these days that grew up on bands like Korn and maybe Soulfly?
“I think people will dig it. I try to not be a gatekeeper. It’s never too late to get into metal. Like you said, if you start with Korn and stuff like that, that’s totally cool, man. You know, you heard it on the radio, that’s where you start that type thing. So I think people will dig Go Ahead And Die based on that. If anything, it’s going to get people to look back on some of these older, probably forgotten bands. If anything, I hope people hear Go Ahead And Die, then they go check out Extreme Noise Terror, and they check out at Simex and bands like that, that influenced us. Just keep it going, keep the cycle going, listen to the old music, appreciate it, make your own.
That’s the way I approach creating and, and working on stuff, when I like and appreciate something, I’ll get influenced and go make my own and try to keep it alive and keep it going. Without young people doing it, it’ll just die eventually. None of us wants that. You know, so, if you are out there, and you hear this record, you’re welcome to come to get in on it. We don’t gatekeep here. I mean, unless you’re a white supremacist, but I think that should go without saying, you know. Everyone’s welcome at our shows whether you are just getting into punk, have never heard extreme metal record in your life, you’re welcome to come to check us out.”
You’ve you’ve talked about the social and that political lyrics. and being inspired by bands like Napalm Death, Crass, and bands like that. There was a huge political influence on that whole scene as well. Have you drawn influence from that side of it as well as the music?
“Yeah, absolutely. Man, I think the themes of that style all go together, you know, it’s almost like this dystopian alternate reality that’s similar to ours in a way. It’s almost like 1984 Big Brother type vibe with extreme metal. I like some bands that get into the evil stuff but, for me, when I was creating stuff, I didn’t really want to make it about the devil, it’s not my cup of tea. Death metal, it’s really easy to get into, either you write about murder, or you write about Satan. I said that, if we’re going to have any, I guess, aesthetic, I want to go with that crusty. It certainly was inspired by that especially on my dad’s side. I think he took his own inspiration.
He wrote Chaos AD, you know, which was a somewhat political record. He wrote Nailbomb, ‘Back To The Primitive,’ that had that ‘fuck all your politics’ chorus. He’s always been pretty into that, so I was raised with a lot of the same ideologies from listening to a lot of the same bands. It is a mixture of taking influence and looking at the real world for influence as well.”
We’ve talked about lockdown and obviously how this has come together during lockdown. We’ve also talked about your other band and Max’s other bands. In terms of your long-term ambitions, what are your thoughts on that? Have you had conversations about touring or another album together?
“Absolutely. We want to do more with Go Ahead And Die. We don’t want to just be a studio band or anything like that. The essence of the old school stuff is meant for a live audience and meant for a live show. We definitely have talked about it. At this point, it really comes down to being responsible with the virus. We’re softies, we play metal, but we don’t want anyone getting hurt or getting sick just to come to see us play music. We’re pretty on top of that, you know, and just prioritizing. The only other thing would be that we’re all in other bands so we’re going to have to find those months out of the year that we can link up and do it but we have talked about it. It is on the cards.
We’ve played it live, it comes off. We want to tour and, in terms of a second record, we’ll just have to see, I would love to, but we’re all busy. There’s a lot going on in everybody’s lives and things like that. I don’t think it’s out of the question that you’ll see another Go Ahead And Die record at some point.”
Brilliant. Ok, just to finish off then, people are always talking about parents having a favourite child. So, if we flip that on its head, what about you? Have you got a favourite Max band or album?
“I’d say personally, Soulfly I is probably my favourite of my dad’s. That was when he split from Seps and he went his own way and found himself. He poured his heart out into it and, to me, that’s what’s important in music. I’m really proud of Go Ahead And Die. This is definitely my first major release on Nuclear Blast. All my other bands have been on independent labels and stuff like that. So, it definitely has a very soft spot in my heart. I love it. Also, the Healing Magic record that we have getting mastered I really, really love that too and I can’t wait to to unleash that later this year, too.”
Excellent. Well, thanks for your time Igor, do you have anything you want to say to wrap this up…
“Just keep your eyes open for the album. Get it on vinyl, cassette CD, stream it, do whatever you want. Just listen to it, check it out, come out to a show whenever those eventually happened. Same goes for Healing Magic. Just keep your eyes out for our record. We’ll hopefully be touring by the end of the year/early next year.”